Day, Drinking

2 a.m. – Water, room temperature

It’s 2 a.m. somewhere, more precisely right here, and I am awake for seemingly no reason. My mouth is dry, a barren desert in need of rainfall, and the large Nalgene bottle covered in stickers next to my bed is thankfully mostly full. Lest I have to get up and get out of bed to go to the fridge and get some of the filtered water from the container on the door. It’s important to treat yourself the way you desire to be treated at 2 a.m. regardless of the situation, and if I am to be awake for nothing, I want it to mean everything.

3:30 a.m. – More water

This is the last of it, and thinking about drinking water makes me think about the fact that, if I continue down this path, I will have to pee, and then I will be awake. Proper awake. Right now, I am firmly in the grasp of insomniac’s limbo. I have been awake since the previous water call but denying it to myself, letting the soothing sounds of a rerun of Gingerbread Showdown on the Food Network plastered on the wall by way of the projector in our bedroom act as a waking dream. Maybe my dream is to live on the set of a holiday-themed cooking show, where the vibes are immaculate and it’s always Christmas even though you know they probably filmed this in September.

4:00 a.m. – The idea of Coffee

I have gotten out of bed because I drank a 2 and a 3:30 a.m. water, and now I have to pee, and now I am awake, out of limbo and into Dante’s third circle of insomnia, and I will be walking the dog in an hour and change anyway so here we are. My fiancé is awake as well. I see her stirring in bed and sometimes falling asleep in little bursts while scrolling Facebook on her phone, which is adorable and the best way to scroll Facebook. We watch an episode of Gingerbread Showdown we have seen so many times in the past and discuss the merits of making coffee so early, and before we can make a unilateral decision I have already risen and put it on.

4:05 a.m. – Coffee

At 4:05 a.m., I pour coffee into our Christmas mugs. Hers says “I’m Only A Morning Person On Christmas” and mine “Jolly Juice.” They are cheesy in all the ways that Chrismtas is so easily cheesy, and we only drink out of these for the entire month of December. It’s fun, and we need to allow ourselves to have fun even when the things outside of our bed are often less fun than we would like. I spray whipped cream on top of hers and sprinkle cinnamon on top of that and leave mine black because my little tummy can’t do dairy so early, or even later if we’re being honest with each other. We are morning people with our jolly juice, and we are fulfilled.

5:40 a.m. – Coffee

Now Bowie, our dog, and myself have gone for our walk, and I have listened to “Fairytale Of New York” while the snow attempts to fall around us and my dog who loves snow tries to eat it before it hits the pavement and becomes nothing. I like to let myself think as little as possible this early and instead let music and Bowie be the primary factors of my brain’s focus. I know we can discourse about “Fairytale of New York,” but I love this song and I think its beauty outweighs the word some people don’t like, and I still get a little weepy when the strings rise during the and the bells went ringing out on Christmas Day part because I am both sappy and sleep deprived. We arrive home to the next pot of coffee made, and I pour new mugs of morning jolly juice while Bowie and our cats eat breakfast. I deliver a mug to my partner, now in her umpteenth attempt at sleeping and sit in the living room alone to drink coffee and read or do a crossword or play video games and think about nothing.

9:00 a.m. – Tea Time

I drink green tea in the morning, because I like to trick myself and say aren’t we being healthy to my stomach who hates me and the black coffee I fill it with all day. I also just like green tea, and I pour it into a nice amber coloured Le Creuset mug and stare at the Christmas tree in our living room that we put up in late November when we got some bad news and marvel at how nice it is to have a loft with high ceilings so we can put a tall tree up that can dwarf the enormity of our sadness. The string of lights in the middle that blink on and off that we don’t know how to fix even though we googled it twice dancing off the ornaments and the tree topper that is a picture of Dolly Parton surrounded by glitter. Being healthy is whatever, but being kind to ourselves is very real and here I am being kind to myself.

10:30 a.m. – Grapefruit Bubly

I have a Zoom meeting about the end of the year, and every now and then I will look at my phone and drink a bit of Grapefruit Bubly and check the calendar to make sure it is, in fact, the end of the year. There are no seasonal holiday Bubly or La Croix flavours that I know of, but Grapefruit makes the occasional appearance at holiday parties, and I guess this counts. Someone should make a pine needle-infused soda water, that’s a million dollar idea. I have forgotten to pay attention to the meeting. I am drinking grapefruit flavoured water despite the fact that I actually don’t like grapefruit in real life. I am complex and mysterious and boring in equal measure, and I forgot to take my ADHD medication because I have been awake since yesterday.

1:00 p.m. – Cranberry Ginger Ale

When I used to drink, the holidays were my time because legally it is important that you be drunk every day until you realize it’s been January for a week and a half. Vodka and whiskey poured into every glass and mug and to-go coffee cup. But now, I am sober and happily so and tired because I don’t sleep. But I like a treat, and every year it is hard to find cranberry Canada Dry, the Canadian ginger ale company whose slogan is The Champagne of Ginger Ales. My fiancé found two boxes of it, and I am now a fancy bitch enjoying the champagne of cranberry ginger ale and forgetting that I am exhausted because I am living in the thrill of the moment and the discovery of the season’s most hard-to-find ginger ale flavour. The bitterness of the cranberry is in perfect concert with the sweetness of the ginger ale, and it is heaven. Every website and every cookbook will load you up with holiday drinks that are all about alcohol which forgoes the beauty of the season: simplicity. Cranberry ginger ale is neither too much or not enough. It is perfect and it is everything and it will be gone eventually, so enjoy the light it conjures in your heart while you can.

2:00 p.m. – Fancy Starbucks Coffee

I don’t drink Starbucks during the year because I think the coffee there tastes bad, like actually bad, and life is too short to drink bad coffee. It’s always a bit burnt, tastes like old leaves, and it’s simply too bitter. There is only so much room for bitterness in me, and I consume most of the bitterness I create. But at Christmas, I love a drink that is peppermint and whip cream and cinnamon and whatever the fuck. A Peppermint Latté for me and a Caramel Brulé for my fiancé. I like the joy it draws out of me, the exuberance of the treat that happens but once a year and the indulgence and mindlessness of it all, that drowns out the bitterness.

3:00 p.m. – Coffee

We have coffee at three in the afternoon because for almost two decades I worked in construction, and on union jobs you take a coffee at 10 a.m. and one at 3 p.m., and even though I don’t work a job like that anymore, my brain is wired that way. It is an excuse to drink more coffee, which we can put eggnog and whipped cream and cinnamon and whatever your heart fucking desires into it because who cares, we are awake and alive and our sadness is drowned out by the eight-foot Christmas tree in our living room. I put a record on, the copy of Vince Guraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack that used to be my dad’s, and let myself be carried away by my genuine love of the season and let the jolly juice keep our spirits bright.

5:00 p.m. – Coffee

I work as the producer of a podcast, and not many people know this because it’s a thing I don’t talk about despite my job being somewhat to talk about myself, and we have a recording tonight and I need to be awake for the hours it will take to record and the work I will have to do when it is done. So I make more coffee at 5:00 p.m., and my fianceé smiles that knowing smile she does when I make coffee past when most people would but we don’t sleep and the rules are different when you don’t sleep. Plus, coffee is fucking incredible.

7:00 p.m. – Crystal Pepsi

Because it is thematically appropriate for the end-of-the-year show the podcast I work for is doing, I break out one of two 350 ml bottles of Crystal Pepsi I was given this year because I am a media person who talks a lot about the 90s, and it made sense to make me a Crystal Pepsi influencer. It is not good, like syrup and water sharing the same room but not getting along, and I regret my decision. I also made more coffee, and that can’t possibly be why the Crystal Pepsi is tasting off.

9:00 p.m. – Cranberry Ginger Ale

It is important to indulge all the parts of you that crave indulgence as the year careens to an end, and why not have two or three of these cans? They only come once a year after all.

11:00 p.m. – Water

I fill the water bottle I will put next to the bed right to the top in hopes I will not need to wake to drink of it, or to get out of bed to pee and be awake too early even though I know it’s inevitable. There’s lots on my mind: things to plan and gifts to purchase and appointments and deadlines and the British are awake on Twitter so it’s time to see a lot of transphobia and why not scroll a little? The game that I play where I scroll through and feel bad and then sit in silence for a bit and wonder why I feel so bad. Then I remember I can do crosswords, and I do one of those instead because there’s less transphobia on that. My eyes start to falter, and we are watching The West Wing, and I love it but I am so tired and thank god I will finally sleep. The water won’t be needed, thank you. Only sleep and then coffee tomorrow when I awake with hours of rest in my soul.

2:00 a.m. – Water

Well…fuck.


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Niko Stratis

Niko Stratis is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in outlets like SPIN, Bitch, Xtra, Catapult and more. Her work primarily focuses on culture, the 1990s, queer/trans topics and as often as possible where all those ideas intersect. 

She wrote that piece about Jackass that you liked and also the Gin Blossoms one. 

She is also the creator and host of V/A Club, a podcast about movie soundtracks.

Niko lives in downtown Toronto with her fiancé and their dog and 2 cats. She is a cancer.

Niko has written 41 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. disclaimer that I did work at this company, but it seems like you might like to know about hoplark’s The Sprucey One. it’s basically carbonated spruce tip tisane and I could drink it all day every day. we called it “spruce juice” in-house, and technically all their products are gay culture because holy cow were there a lot of us queers there in the early days.

    • Niko!!!!! This piece is so brilliant! It made me laugh so many times and made me feel so much empathy for you and your fiancé and the way you organized all of that using beverages and their imbibing times is GENIUS!!!!

  2. This is such a sweet peek into your life! I am also sober and Canadian, feeling very represented here. I find that the Compliments/sobeys brand of cranberry ginger ale is maybe even better than Canada Dry- you should check it out if you get the chance :)

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